The idea for this project began in 2008 when I was driving East on I76 in Philadelphia at night heading towards Center City. Like many nights before, I saw the sparkling lights of the beautiful Cira Centre building. However, this night as I was staring at those lights, in my mind's eye I saw Tetris shapes outlined by those lights rotating and falling. Thus began my long journey to make a game out of those lights, in what I call the World's Largest Videogame Project.
It took close to 5 years to make this project happen. About 4 1/2 of those years were spent lobbying Brandywine Realty Trust that owns the Cira Centre. The long and winding path to this project is well documented here by Technically Philly so I won't repeat it here.
Let me take a moment to thank those who have made this project possible. First and foremost, I would like to thank my tech team, Marc Barrowclift, Gaylord Holder, and Santi Ontañón. Without them this project would still be a dream floating in and out through my mind. Second, I would like to thank John Fry, who went out of his way to get me a meeting with Jerry Sweeney. Third, I would like to thank Jerry Sweeney for giving me permission to make my dream a reality. And fourth, but not in the least, I would like to thank Chris Wink, whose enthusiasm for this project sometimes kept me going even when I was feeling I was getting nowhere. Instead of simply talking about the project, let me show you.
Scaling the Cira Centre. Produced by Drexel University.
April 3rd. Press Preview for Philly Tech Week 2013
At the press preview for Philly Tech Week held on April 3rd, we showed the video produced by Technically Philly (below). The gasps of delight from the audience made me feel that this project will be a success.
The Grandest Game of Pong on the Planet. Produced by Technically Media.
April 19th. Kickoff Event
Hundreds of people showed up for the event itself. But I was gratified by the enourmous amount of interest that the press had with this project. Here is a video taken by Andrew Cunningham of Ars Technica.
April 24th. Second Event
We had some lag issues on Friday. My crack team and I went to work and solved it before the April 24th event. The games were running silky smooth!
But what would be a videogame without Easter Egg??
I've said that back in 2008 seeing Tetris shapes rotating and falling in my mind's eye while driving past the Cira Centre set me on this journey to create the World's Biggest Videogame, but I demo pong! So, people kept asking me, what about Tetris? Well, here it is!
While this project was my dream, it took a whole host of people to make it real. First and foremost, I would like to thank my team at Drexel. They include Gaylord Holder, Senior System Administrator for Computer Science; Marc Barrowclift, a Software Engineering Student; and Dr. Santi Ontanon, Professor in Computer Science, at Drexel University. I would also like to thank John Fry, President of Drexel University, for his support and going out of his way to help me meet with Jerry Sweeney. And Jerry Sweeney, CEO and President of Brandywine Realty Trust, for taking a chance on me and providing me unfettered access to his building and to his staff.
I would also like to thank Chris Wink and Brian Kirk of Technically Philly, the organizers of Philly Tech Week. Chris was especially an enthusiastic supporter of this project and kept my spirits up even though all the obstacles. I would also like to thank Karen Randal from the Department of Commerce, City of Philadelphia. She was always an enthusiastic and early supporter of the idea and help me get an initial meeting with an executive from Brandywine Realty Trust in 2010.
And finally, I would like to thank our partner organizations for this project. They include Drexel University, Brandywine Realty Trust, Technically Philly, City of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Arts, and AT&T.
I was gratified and humbled by the enormous interest in this project. I was told that from the time that the project was announced on 4/3, it was picked up by over 500 media outlets. Instead of trying to list everyone here, which would kind of be cool but insane, I thought I would list those reporters with whom I personally spoke with, because I'm greatful to all of them for taking the time out to talk to me. (P.S. If I missed you somehow, please drop me an email!).
- Seward, Zack. "For Philly Tech Week, play Pong on the Cira Centre." Newsworks, 4/3/2013.
- Matheson, Kathy. "Philadelphia gets ready to play 'Pong' on building." Associated Press, 4/4/2013.
- Fleming, Omari. "Supersized Video Game Slated For Side of Cira Building." (Video) Fox 29 Philadelphia, 4/5/2013.
- Frederick, Jen. "Cira Pong." (Video) Fox 29 Philadelphia, 4/8/2013.
- Lejacq, Yannick. "Philadelphia skyscraper turns 'Pong' into 'world's largest video game'." NBC News, 4/8/2013.
- Gelles, Jeff. "Man behind 'Grandest Game of Pong'." Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/12/2013.
- Tach, Dave. "Inventing a skyscraper console: How a professor is bringing Pong to Philadelphia's Cira Centre." Polygon, 4/13/2013.
- Guendelsberger, Emily. "King of Pong: How a Drexel professor turned a skyscraper into an Atari." City Paper Philadelphia, 4/18/2013.
- Fallik, Dawn. "Pong Comes Back in a Big Way." The Wall Street Journal, 4/18/2013.
- Lashway, Zach. "Playing Pong on the Cira Center." (Video) PHL17, 4/19/2013.
- Titlow, John. "The World’s Biggest Game Of Pong: Here’s How They Built It." Fast Company, 4/19/2013.
- Cunningham, Andrew. "Selling, coding, and playing the 'world’s largest videogame'." Ars Technica, 4/20/2013.
- Seward, Zack. "Philly Turns Skyscraper Into Video Game Screen For Tech Week." NPR, 04/21/2013.